A smart city is an urban area that uses different types of electronic data collection sensors to supply information which is used to manage assets and resources efficiently. This includes data collected from citizens, devices, and assets that is processed and analyzed to monitor and manage traffic and transportation systems, power plants, water supply networks, waste management, law enforcement, information systems, schools, libraries, hospitals, and other community services.
The smart city concept integrates information and communication technology (ICT), and various physical devices connected to the network (the Internet of things or IoT) to optimize the efficiency of city operations and services and connect to citizens. Smart city technology allows city officials to interact directly with both community and city infrastructure and to monitor what is happening in the city and how the city is evolving.
ICT is used to enhance quality, performance and interactivity of urban services, to reduce costs and resource consumption and to increase contact between citizens and government. Smart city applications are developed to manage urban flows and allow for real-time responses. A smart city may therefore be more prepared to respond to challenges than one with a simple "transactional" relationship with its citizens. Yet, the term itself remains unclear to its specifics and therefore, open to many interpretations.
Other terms that have been used for similar concepts include cyberville, digital city, electronic communities, flexicity, information city, intelligent city, knowledge-based city, MESH city, telecity, teletopia, Ubiquitous city, wired city.
It has been suggested that a smart city (also community, business cluster, urban agglomeration or region) uses information technologies to:
Make more efficient use of physical infrastructure (roads, built environment and other physical assets) through artificial intelligence and data analytics to support a strong and healthy economic, social, cultural development.
Engage effectively with local people in local governance and decision by use of open innovation processes and e-participation, improving the collective intelligence of the city's institutions through e-governance, with emphasis placed on citizen participation and co-design.
Learn, adapt and innovate and thereby respond more effectively and promptly to changing circumstances by improving the intelligence of the city.
They evolve towards a strong integration of all dimensions of human intelligence, collective intelligence, and also artificial intelligence within the city. The intelligence of cities "resides in the increasingly effective combination of digital telecommunication networks (the nerves), ubiquitously embedded intelligence (the brains), sensors and tags (the sensory organs), and software (the knowledge and cognitive competence)".
These forms of intelligence in smart cities have been demonstrated in three ways:
The Republic of Singapore has announced its quest of becoming the first smart nation. A program launched by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in late 2014 calls for an unspecified number of sensors and cameras to be deployed across the island to track everything from cleanliness to traffic. In any case, the number of sensors being installed across the island will be large. Already, the city can detect if people are smoking in unauthorized zones or if people are throwing litter out of high-rise buildings. But substantially more data is coming, according to the Wall Street Journal, which announced in a recent headline that “Singapore Is Taking the ‘Smart City’ to a Whole New Level.”
Juniper Research gave Singapore high marks for its smart mobility policies and technology as well as its wireless connectivity. In 2014, the city-state announced that it was developing software it calls “Virtual Singapore,” a dynamic 3-D model that enables city planners to run virtual tests—verifying, for instance, how crowds might evacuate from a neighborhood facing an emergency.
Finland’s capital Helsinki is piloting smart city projects through city innovation platforms that enable the testing of solutions in an existing urban environment. The area where these pilots take place is the Smart Kalasatama district, where co-creation and agile development take centre stage. Its residents are the initiators and testers of new technology and smart services. Kalasatama wants to become so efficient that its residents gain one hour of extra time per day. Some of the pilot projects include parking places with car charging facilities as well as automated waste collection systems that reduce the traffic of garbage trucks by up to 90 percent. Then there’s smart grids and real-time energy monitoring pilots that aim for a 15 percent reduction in energy usage, and apps that plan the most efficient traffic routes with any type of transportation method. Finnish schools are widely known for their forward-thinking education systems. The curriculums move away from conventional pedagogy towards a more inquiry-based method of learning. Open data innovation, hackathons as well as open app competitions are part of this and are held on an annual basis.
Named European Capital of Innovation in 2014, Spain’s second-biggest city, Barcelona, is involved in over one hundred smart city projects and is a global leader in its extensive use of the Internet of Things. Smart city projects range from smart lighting, the promotion of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, and Wi-Fi in public transportation systems and public places. Barcelona provides global leadership by hosting the annual Smart City Expo World Congress – supporting the growth of the smart cities industry. The city’s Telecare service looks after its more than 70.000 elderly and disabled citizens by proactively checking on them with the use of sensor technology. Barcelona has smart LED streetlights throughout that are only activated when they detect movement. This leads to energy savings of no less than 30 percent. The sensors in the street lights also collect environmental data while rain and humidity sensors determine the amount of water required to irrigate public parks. Smart garbage bins are only emptied when full and smart parking systems show vehicles to free parking spots, reducing carbon emissions and traffic congestion. Digital bus stops provide real time overviews of bus times, USB charging ports as well as free Wi-Fi. The city’s Smart Urban Platform aims to solve urban challenges by bringing together data from social networks, the city’s information systems and the open-source Sentilo sensor network.